Overview of Mobile Device Security thru Client-based Applications - dummies

Overview of Mobile Device Security thru Client-based Applications

By Rich Campagna, Subbu Iyer, Ashwin Krishnan, Mark Bauhaus

Using client-based endpoint security is one method of protecting mobile devices from malware. Protecting your corporate data and network begins with protecting its connecting devices. In this solution an actual client software app protects the device from viruses, malware, spam, and other threats.

Software is usually designed to run in the background, scan the device periodically for threats, and introspect (analyze) data received on the device for viruses and malware. Such software typically alerts the user when a threat is detected, and automatically quarantines or deletes the source of the threat as well. Symantec, Trend Micro, F-Secure, McAfee, and Juniper offer client software based mobile security solutions.

Software applications are typically deployed to mobile devices via the following two ways:

  • Downloaded via the app store by the users themselves or deployed via a mobile device management system by the IT department.

  • Deployed automatically over the air (OTA) from a server that the device connects to. This approach typically happens with no user intervention. Virus signatures are typically updated in a central system periodically. Then devices either download the signatures at regular intervals or they’re pushed out to devices periodically.

With client-based software, there are some basic things to watch out for while shopping for a suitable mobile endpoint security solution:

  • Determine what device resources are used by the software. You certainly do not want to deploy client software that drags down the performance of the device. So look for the following attributes while narrowing your options:

    • Size of the client software: Needless to say, the smaller the client, the better.

    • CPU utilization: The software should run as unobtrusively as possible, reducing any impact on the user’s activity on the device. If running the application slows down the entire device, then it is apparent that the application is taking up a lot of system resources to function.

    • Memory utilization: The software should consume as little memory as possible. Again, like the impact on CPU utilization, when an application consumes too much memory, it drags down the performance of the device in general.

  • Avoid software that is ported to a mobile platform from Windows. Beware of software options that are essentially desktop endpoint software ported for the mobile platforms. Porting in the software development world refers to the process of customizing software for a different platform than what the software was initially designed for.

    Several vendors offer endpoint security software for Windows platforms. When you shop for mobile endpoint security software, make sure that the mobile endpoint software was designed from the ground up for each specific mobile platform.

Investigate options that allow for simple deployment of the software to mobile devices. You don’t want the IT department to have to deploy the software manually to every mobile device used by employees. A simple deployment mechanism like OTA or availability in the app store is probably most desirable.